The NFL claims this year’s Draft set a new record: The organization says total attendance for the event in Nashville surpassed 600,000 across the three days.
The numbers include the crowd that swarmed Lower Broadway in front of the event’s main stage and those who crossed the river to the NFL Draft Experience at Nissan Stadium.
Sara Hyland drove five hours from Ohio for the event. She says she jumped at the opportunity to come to Nashville for the weekend.
“The people here are amazing. There is never anyone in a bad mood. They are always friendly and engaging,” Hyland said. “I couldn’t ask for a better time, and the weather has been perfect.”
During his post-draft press conference, Titans general manager Jon Robinson expressed pride in his home state and his adopted city by sporting a hat that read “Respect Nashville.”
“It was unbelievable,” Robinson said. “Every time they scanned Broadway — the fans, the crowd … we lived up to the hype.”
The weekend also included a high-profile arrest. Houston Texans tight end Ryan Griffin was charged with vandalism and public intoxication after smashing a window at the Hotel Indigo on Friday night.
Metro Police say Griffin was stopped by security just outside the hotel at the corner Union Street and Second Avenue. He was found with a bloody hand and fingers. Police say they took him into custody for his own safety. He was released on bond the next morning.
Help For Mariota
As far as the draft itself, the Tennessee Titans did not take any of the more well-known college players, whose names were used by the NFL to hype their Draft coverage.
But in the second and third rounds, they did choose players who could help their star quarterback during a crucial year.
The Titans took Mississippi wide receiver A.J. Brown with the 52nd pick overall. He could help a passing offense, which was near the very bottom in nearly every category in the NFL.
The team also selected West Virginia offensive lineman Nate Davis with the 82nd overall pick. He could help fix one of the team’s biggest problems by replacing Josh Kline, who was one of the league’s lowest-rated linemen last season.
NFL draft analyst Charles Davis says both are meant to help the Titans find out if Marcus Mariota is the team’s long-term answer at quarterback.
“They’ve got to do everything possible to get Marcus Mariota going,” says Davis. “I mean, fifth year in the league, he’s got to make that jump, and they want to keep him healthy.”
After the draft, teams have gotten busy signing undrafted free agents. Most teams won’t officially announce their selections until players clear a medical exam and contracts are signed.
But word is leaking out: Among the players the Titans are reportedly bringing in are Quart’e Sapp, a linebacker from Tennessee, and Isaiah Mack a defensive tackle from UT Chattanooga.
Former Centennial High teammates Emanuel Hall and Tyrel Dodson were not taken in the draft, despite performing well at the NFL Combine. They tweeted that they signed with the Chicago Bears and the Buffalo Bills, respectively.
WPLN’s Chas Sisk contributed to this report.